2021 Fantasy Baseball Second Half SP Expected Buys

by Jason Beckner
2021 Fantasy Baseball SP Expected Buys

Welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Second Half SP Expected Buys.

Our goal here is to help you find starting pitchers who have expected and advanced statistics that predict they should continue to have a strong second half or should be able to bounce back from an "unlucky" first half.

After much deliberation, we decided to run with these five stats:

  • xERA
  • xFIP
  • xwOBA
  • xBACON
  • CSW%

We then set a limit to a minimum of 50 innings pitched and ranked all the starting pitchers that qualified against each other in each stat, using the rank.eq function in Excel. Similar to rotisserie league scoring.

So the pitcher with the lowest xERA gets just one point added to their SCORE. The same for the pitcher with the lowest xFIP, xwOBA and xBACON. The pitcher with the highest CSW% had just one point added to their SCORE.

Then we tallied up the rankings to create a SCORE column. The lower the score, the better.

Before calculating the SCORE column, we made sure to remove any pitchers that have been sent to the bullpen (i.e. Cristian Javier), injured for the season (Tyler Glasnow) or named Trevor Bauer.

137 pitchers qualified under our settings and the average score was 342. Only 10 pitchers scored less than 100, with Jacob deGrom owning the long single-digit SCORE at 6!

  1. Jacob deGrom - 6
  2. Corbin Burnes - 12
  3. Kevin Gausman - 41
  4. Carlos Rodon - 54
  5. Gerrit Cole - 60
  6. Brandon Woodruff - 64
  7. Freddy Peralta - 67
  8. Max Scherzer - 69
  9. Zack Wheeler - 73
  10. Clayton Kershaw - 82

Click here to see the entire spreadsheet!

2021 Fantasy Baseball Second Half SP Expected Buys

Jacob deGromNYM92.01.401.62.192.28135.8%
Corbin BurnesMIL87.21.682.16.212.28434.1%
Kevin GausmanSFG114.22.703.31.262.30032.6%
Carlos RodonCHW89.22.562.94.249.30230.5%
Gerrit ColeNYY114.02.752.90.262.31432.3%
Brandon WoodruffMIL113.12.542.92.257.30730.1%
Freddy PeraltaMIL98.02.563.70.251.26230.9%
Max ScherzerWSN98.02.883.29.271.31132.3%
Zack WheelerPHI119.22.342.71.247.30528.9%
Clayton KershawLAD106.

Freddy Peralta, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

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The Brewers' number three pitcher is actually pitching more like a number two and at times even an ace. However, he is being overshadowed by his rotation mates, Burnes & Woodruff. Peralta has been having himself a breakout year in 2021.

So far in 2021 he has made 17 starts and is 7-3 with a 2.39 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 135 strikeouts in 98 innings pitched. Furthermore, 10 of those 17 starts have all been quality starts, and he only has one start in which he has surrendered more than three earned runs.

Clearly his traditional stats grab your attention, but when we look at his advanced stats and more specifically his expected stats, you can really see why Peralta should be a second-half buy candidate.

First of all his 2.55 xERA (expected earned run average) currently ranks as the fifth-best amongst all qualifying pitchers. His 2.55 xERA is right in line with 2.39 ERA, therefore we can expect the success to continue the rest of 2021.

Now let's look at his xwOBA (expected weighted on-base average). Currently, his .251 xwOBA is ranked as the fifth-best amongst qualified pitchers. Behind only names such as deGrom, Burnes, and Wheeler. If we take the xwOBA a step further and look at balls that are hit, or xBACON, we can see he is doing a really good job at limiting the number of hits on balls that make contact. His .262 xBACON is ranked as the best amongst all qualified pitchers.  Better than deGrom, Max Sherzer, Yu Darvish and Gerrit Cole.

Not to mention, depending on your league settings, Peralta qualifies as a RP as well as an SP which only increases his value. If you are looking for a high-end SP to trade for that won't break the bank. Then look no further than the Milwaukee Brewers Freddy Peralta.

Zack Wheeler, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

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Before the season began Wheeler was being drafted as the 29th starting pitcher and 33rd pitcher and according to ADP. Currently, Wheeler ranks as the 6th best starting pitcher according to FantasyPros. So clearly he was being undervalued prior to the season.

Prior to 2021, he had never struck out more than nine batters per nine and never had a strikeout rate higher than 25%. However, this year is a different story. Wheeler currently has 145 strikeouts in 119.2 innings pitched. That is good enough for second-best in the National League behind only Jacob deGrom.

Now let's look into Wheeler's expected stats and how they relate to his success. First off is his xERA, which currently sits at 2.36 and that ranks as the third-best in the league behind only deGrom and Burnes. Currently, his ERA sits at 2.26, the fifth-best in all of MLB but it also lineups almost exactly with his xERA.

If you look at Wheeler's xBACON (expected batting average on contact). It currently sits at .305 which may seem alarming, however, it actually ranks as the 12th best and only .043 points higher than the league leader. Furthermore, his batting average against currently sits at .204. So the fact that his xBACON is only 100 points higher is a really good sign.

Wheeler is now entering his seventh season and third organization, but he is finally showing us that he is capable of being an elite top-end starting pitcher that can even contribute high-end strikeout numbers. Wheeler's price tag may be higher than you would like, but you won't regret the results.

Lucas Giolito, RHP, Chicago White Sox

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Many people, the Nationals included, never thought Giolito would live up to his first-round price tag. However, he proved everyone wrong when he broke out in a huge way in 2019. This coming right after the 2018 season when he led the league in earned runs.

The first half of 2021 has not been so friendly for Giolito, as he currently has an ERA over four and a FIP at four. However, when we take a closer look, his expected stats suggest he has been pitching better than his numbers suggest.

First off, his xERA is only 3.36 and that ranks in the top 25 of all qualifying starting pitchers. It is also over a whole run better than his 4.15ERA would suggest. So clearly he is being subject to some bad luck when it comes to limiting earned runs.

It's not just his xERA that suggests he is pitching well either. Currently, his xFIP sits at 3.57 and that ranks as the 28th best amongst all qualified starting pitchers. Similar to his xERA, his xFIP is actually lower than his actual FIP, a half a run lower actually. This is another signal that he has been pitching better than the numbers display.

His CSW% is at 30.1% which is actually right at the elite level threshold of 30%, as anything above 30% is considered above league average. So he is pitching well and getting good strikeout numbers. Displayed by his almost 30% strikeout rate.

Clearly, Giolito was pitching well in the first half but has been a victim of some misfortune. I believe that Giolito will have a bounce-back second half and you should be looking to buy him now while his price tag remains relatively low.

Waiver Wire Adds (< 50% rostered)

Logan WebbSFG21%52.03.462.96.284.31930.6%
Austin GomberCOL38%78.13.513.71.294.30931.3%
Patrick SandovalLAA26%56.03.853.78.292.30631.3%
Spencer TurnbullDET28%
Shane McClanahanTBR44%60.03.623.24.307.34431.7%
Brady SingerKCR31%85.23.724.13.304.31330.1%
Jon GrayCOL35%86.03.514.20.303.31028.6%
Alex CobbLAA21%66.03.833.03.298.35530.6%
Steven MatzTOR38%76.13.673.73.308.33829.5%
Kolby AllardTEX19%63.13.804.03.296.31226.6%
Josh FlemingTBR17%69.03.913.98.308.30724.9%
Dane DunningTEX12%
Ryan YarbroughTBR44%96.13.804.26.310.32927.5%
Jordan MontgomeryNYY39%93.03.963.98.316.33328.3%
Madison BumgarnerARI20%
Matt BoydDET34%70.23.994.85.313.30827.4%
JT BrubakerPIT25%
Domingo GermanNYY35%
Jameson TaillonNYY37%
Joe RossWSN28%87.14.434.11.319.33729.8%

Shane McClanahan, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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Shane is a young and inexperienced starting pitcher that has made a big enough impact at the minor league level, the Rays were trusting enough to give Shane his first taste of big league action during the 2020 playoff run. It is not often that teams just hand one of their top pitching prospects the ball in the middle of the playoff series. That should tell you a lot about the type of pitcher McClanahan is.

When you first look at his stats, you might question his 4.05 ERA. But when we look a little deeper, his expected stats paint a different picture. Currently, his xERA sits at 3.85 which is above league average and would also indicate that his current ERA is slightly inflated comparatively.

An even bigger telling stat is his 3.24 xFIP which is currently the 13th best in all of baseball. It is actually half a run better than his 3.85 FIP. So even his expected fielder independent pitching is better than his FIP. This tells me that even without his defense he is able to pitch at a high level.

Furthermore is CSW% currently sits at 31.7% and that ranks as the 11th best in baseball. CSW% is a very good indicator that not only has McClanahan been good at limiting runs and hits, but he has also been striking out his fair share of batters as well. His strikeout rate that currently sits at 28.2% ranks in the 76th percentile.

Also depending on your league settings, McClanahan qualifies as a RP as well as SP. So if you are looking for a cheap pitching option, then look no further than McClanahan, who is essentially free as he is only owned in 44% of Y! leagues.

Austin Gomber, LHP, Colorado Rockies

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When you think about pitchers to target or pitchers that you can depend on, you don't typically think about starting pitchers on the Colorado Rockies. Generally, because they pitch half their games in the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the MLB. However, I am here to tell you that you should absolutely be looking to buy Gomber.

When we look at Gomber's expected stats it displays what type of pitcher he can be. First let's take a look at his xERA. Which through 15 starts currently sits at 3.51 and that ranks as the 29th best in baseball, which isn't the exciting part. It is the fact that his ERA sits at 3.68, so clearly he his giving up slightly more runs than he is expected too.

It is not just xERA that signals his high-end abilities, it is also his CSW%. His 31.3 CSW% ranks as the 12th best in the league and is the highest it has been in his three seasons in the league. He is getting a ton of swing and misses with his breaking pitches as both his slider and curveball have a whiff% higher than 32%.

If we focus on his xBACON, we see that there is room for improvement in the second half. His xBACON sits at .309 and ranks as the 22nd best in the league. Which again seems high for a batting average against, however, the leader in xBACON has a 262. Even furthermore his xBA is 230, so his expected stats are very much in line with his performances.

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